Eric Paslay — “She Don’t Love You”

Eric Paslay

1. A good country song cuts deep. That’s most people’s problem with the music on the radio — listeners could probably stomach edgier production if the songs were able to break the skin, but few writers today aim to do that. Good thing Eric Paslay goes for the jugular here. Producer Marshall Altman wisely keeps things down here, adding just a touch of instrumentation around Paslay’s voice as he assures another man that his “love” isn’t quite so real. He describes a woman who has been burned so many times that she has forgotten how to feel. Most songs on the radio these days give women two of the following dimensions: tan, drunk, soaking wet, barely clothed, or something of the like. Paslay busts out of that box and gives this woman four, maybe five dimensions. She’s hurt, she’s jaded, she’s lonely — but she’s also self-aware, and remembers what life was like before all the heartbreak. In fact, the narrator knows so much about his subject that the “twist” at the end is hardly revelatory. When people ask for story songs, what they want is this sort of depth. Paslay manages to conjure it without giving away hardly any of the story, which is commendable.

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Lee Ann Womack – “The Way I’m Livin’”

Lee Ann Womack

1. Country music is about songs. Always has been, always will be. There are some that like to hold country music to a certain sound, usually the twang of Luther Perkins’ guitar or Buddy Emmons’ steel. When they talk about bringing country music back, that’s what many people mean. Country music has always changed sounds, though — from Hank Williams’ hardscrabble moan to Kitty Wells to Cash to Kenny Rogers to Conway Twitty to Willie in the 70′s to Willie in the 80′s to Willie in the 00′s to Alan Jackson to Garth to Reba to Faith & Tim to Kenny Chesney to Miranda Lambert to Kacey Musgraves and on and on. Sounds change, but songs remain. Lee Ann Womack cuts great songs.

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18 Questions with Dan Wilson

Dan Wilson

Dan Wilson is a damn fine songwriter. From his early work with Trip Shakespeare and Semisonic to his cowrites with Adele, the Dixie Chicks, Taylor Swift, and others, he has an unmistakeable knack for melody and words. He recently did an AMA with Reddit; I just picked the best questions related to songwriting and reposted them here. His new record Love Without Fear comes out on April 15th. Enjoy.

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In Their Own Voice: Tony Arata, “The Dance”

tony arata

1. Who cares about perspective anymore? Doesn’t seem to be many people who do. We care more about what’s right in front of us, what’s immediate, what’s visible, conspicuous, best for us, get rich quick, show your teeth, live in the moment. Girlfriend dump you? Go park your car in her front yard and throw things at her house. Then high-five your bros and get a tribal bicep tattoo. Perspective? Please. We are too busy partying these days.

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Will Hoge – “Still Got You On My Mind”

will hoge

1. People leave, but they never leave us. That’s why songs get written, and as Willie Nelson says, thats why jukeboxes play. Will Hoge and Marshall Altman show some true heartbreak here — this isn’t just the occasional daydream about “what might’ve been” that I have covered before. It’s his fault, too — “being right never felt so wrong”. To what end are we willing to be selfish? We feel so arrogant, so justified in the moment, doing anything to win the argument. But most lonely people would take it all back, every word, if love would just darken their door again. We go to great lengths — replacing new bodies with old memories just to feel something. But what good does it do? Well, when it results in songs like this, it does us a lot of good.

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